The Issue of Hair Loss Is Well Represented in Limericks




The limerick packs laughs anatomical
Into space that is quite economical,
But the good ones I’ve seen
So seldom are clean,
And the clean ones so seldom are comical
— Anonymous

Is there anyone who doesn’t like a limerick? It’s true that the form may not necessarily be held in the highest artistic esteem, but even those who may decry its artistic worthiness seem to enjoy its ability to amuse.

The limerick dates back to the early 18th century and became especially popular when Edward Lear began turning out hilarious examples during the 19th century. The name “limerick” refers to either the city or county of the same name in Ireland, and it is theorized that it earned that name because early examples of the form were sung to the tune of the song “Won’t You Come to Limerick?”

As is clear from the example above, the limerick is a five-line poem in traditional AABBA rhyming structure and is almost always comical in intent. As is also mentioned in the example above, the subject matter of the limerick is frequently anatomical. Physical attributes and appearance run rampant through the limerick, so it is surprising that baldness does not seem to be a common subject matter.

One early (probably 19th-century) anonymous limerick certainly does deal with hair loss:
There was a young lady of Ryde
Whose locks were unusually dyed;
The hue of her hair
Made everyone stare:
“She’s piebald! She’ll die bald!” they cried.
And Gelett Burgess, who wrote a great deal of “nonsense verse” in the late 19th and the early 20th century, contributed this little piece:
I’d rather have fingers than toes;
I’d rather have ears than a nose;
And as for my hair,
I’m glad it’s all there.
I’ll be awfully sad when it goes.

If one searches, one can find a few hair loss-related limericks that are too ribald for inclusion here, but on the whole, there seems to be few examples in the “classical” limerick tradition that are concerned with hairlessness.

Modern-day limerick writers are on top of hair loss

Among more contemporary practitioners of the form, there’s a bit more interest in hair loss, as witnessed by the following from anonymous contributors of the current day or recent past:
There was a young man with no hair
He looked, but it just wasn’t there
Now his brother all over was furry
But this caused the young man no worry
Said he, “I’d rather be bare than a bear.”
A man had no hair up on top
While of biceps he had no stop
Said his girl, “I care not any
’Bout his missing hairs many
It’s more fun with muscles than mop.”
A young man bald as the day he was born
Treated any who pitied him with scorn
I’ve more girls I can handle
Why, I’m almost a scandal
Thank the Lord that I early was shorn!
My man is bald, hooray, hooray
My fingers on his head do play
They never get all caught in strands
Which get all tangled in my hands
Until I must scrub them away.
I bought a toupee
To look chic-chic-tres
The femmes they did swoon
My spirits soared to the moon
Till the wind blew my hairdo away.

Kloess uses the limerick to discuss his hair loss

Martin Kloess is a contemporary writer who has used hair loss as a subject in a number of limericks, including the following trio:
Wife joked about hair on his head?
That stuff he thought long ago fled
There’s no need to frown
It hasn’t left town?
It’s just moving downtown instead.
The wife did just as she had said?
To never harm hair on his head?
She gave a slight cough?
He took his wig off?
She polished his bald head instead.
Remember the days I had hair
It blinded the women with flair
Oh life is unkind
But I do not mind
For now they are blinded by glare.
Kloess, who had previous experience writing for television and radio but was not a full-time writer, suffered an accident in 2010 that rendered him disabled. “The upside of that,” he says, “is this flow of poetry.”

“I was encouraged to try my hand at limericks by my fans,” he says. “I have written over 400. Most people are unaware that silliness in limericks is more important than form. If you read some of my poems, some may be quite depressing; limericks lighten things up.”

As is probably apparent from the limericks cited above, Kloess writes about hair loss from experience. He began losing his hair while in his 30s.

The relative paucity of baldness-related limericks is surprising, especially given the form’s emphasis on physical issues. Of course, considering the fact that baldness is so often treated with scorn and derision (especially in earlier days), perhaps it’s fortunate that there are fairly few bald limericks.

With that in mind, let’s end this little survey with a positive limerick from our old friend Anonymous:
My hair fled ’ere I was twenty
Which gave me anguish, aye, plenty
But my head since I’ve shined it
I now tend to find it
Makes the girls say, “You’re so heaven sent-y.”